By Elizabeth Uwandu
Following the incessant call for well rounded, entrepreneurship-oriented, as well as employable youths, Caro Favoured School, Awodi-Ora, Lagos, is set to join schools across Africa to compete in Junior Achievement Nigeria’s National Company of the Year Competition, slated for June.
Its students, ranging from ages 15 to 17 years, have invented a hand-held rechargeable traffic light under the their independently set-up company, Inventive Explorers.
Comprising of 33 students, all in Senior Secondary 2, executives of the company; Chibuike Jacob, Osinachi Daniel, Somto Nwachukwu, Emmanuel Anyanwu, Blessing Omosebi, Uchechukwu Obi, Uchechukwu Fredricks, Chizaram Igwe, to mention a few, shared their experience at being inventors and balancing work, school, family and play, with being innovative entrepreneurs, under the supervision of their Co-ordinator, Ebuka Ughamadu who is also the Managing Director of the school.
How was this idea born?
It was a collective effort, they all contributed one idea or the other. Jacob birthed the idea of the hand-held traffic light and they all chipped in one thing or the other. Blessing brought the idea that the device should be rechargeable, Somto improved on the conventional red and green light and suggested they spell out STOP in red and GO in green.
Uchechukwu Obi chipped in that the prototype hand-held was too bulky for the average hand, so they worked on that, while Osinachi insisted on high quality LED bulbs for optimum visibility at night. This enables the traffic signals to be visible as far as 20 meters during the day and 50 meters at night. For durability and avoiding adverse reflection during night use, as well as moisture, Emmanuel recommended the use of Acrylic glass, a transparent termoplastic.
How does it work?
It can be turned on by simply flicking the switch either ways or off with a light push using the thumb. As it is, improvements are constantly being made. Initially, with the prototype, the battery lasted just 90 minutes when charged, now it has been improved to charge for 90 minutes and last three hours with continued usage.
We also did a test run at Boundary Road, in Ajegunle, with the traffic wardens. They liked the device, particularly its portability and its zero likelihood of malfunctioning, however, they suggested we make the signs visible both ways so the user does not have to keep turning around for motorists to see the signs. This enhancement they will also effect.
Is the device’s market not just the government?
Here one of the executives, Osinachi said; “besides government employed traffic wardens, we are targeting, schools, places of worship, event centres, eatries, banks, companies, businees places, markets and anywhere there is movement of vehicles and pedestrians in considerable number or high frequency. Hence, the innovation, due to its portability, can be used by school security to control traffic thereby aiding students cross the road safely to school and back. It can also help company or event centre security agents control traffic when their vehicles tribute into major roads from their premises. It is for everyone, be they public or private.”
What challenges did you face whilst executing this innovation?
To this Uchechukwu Fredricks said; “Getting high quality LED bulbs was really tough. Fortunately we found them and have established a relationship with a supplier who delivers whenever we need them. Time was also a challenge as we could only work after exams.”
Chizaram then disclosed; “Capital was a challenge because as students we do not have money. We resulted to making home-made scouring powder from egg shells, detergent and ashes we got from street food vendors. We sold the scouring powder to our neighbours at home to generate capital. We also organised film shows after exams for our school mates for a token fee.”
What does Caro Favoured School hope to gain from this?
Ughamadu said; “It is entirely their project, the company is theirs and registered in their name. The proceeds from the innovation and from participating in the competition would also entirely go to them. Basically, we know this competition will gear them towards entrepreneurship. It has given them an idea of how businesses are set up and run.
Learning at this early stage means that they know that they have a part to play in the scheme of things, they have also come to know that the way to survive and excel in the business world is to continually add value. In all we are seeking to have well rounded students who are entrepreneurship oriented.”
The competition’s organisers, Junior Achievement Nigeria, is a part of Junior Achievement Worldwide, the world’s largest and fastest growing non-profit economic education organization with a 120-country network, that has reached over 700,000 students in over 1,000 schools.
The National Company of the Year Competition is designed to inspire innovation in students through entrepreneurship. It involves the creation and management of innovative enterprises with business models that respond to the students’ local environment and provide positive impact in the community.